23 Apr Time to get serious about sunscreen
Dermatologist Sun Protection advice – even in Manchester
Most people love the sun, whether it’s sitting in it for a few hours in the garden or staying out all day at the beach or local park. How ever you spend time in the sun it’s time to understand the importance of sunscreen.
It is important to realise that there is a risk from the sun’s rays even when you are not on holiday and yes even in Manchester!
Why do we use sun cream?
Sun cream isn’t used to stop you from getting a tan or to prevent you from burning. Although these factors are important, it does have other very important uses:
Sunscreen helps to shield us from harmful UV rays. Despite the fact that we need the sun for our daily vitamin D intake, it does not mean we should put our health at risk. By applying sunscreen, it actually blocks these harmful rays the sun emits from penetrating the skin and causing skin disorders.
Sunscreen also helps to lower skin cancer risks. Wearing it daily will build up a layer of protection for your skin which helps to reduce the risk of some types of skin cancers.
More than 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year in the UK. It can be on any part of the body exposed to sunlight. Extensive sun exposure is one of the main causes. In more than four out of five cases this is preventable.
In addition, sunscreen enhances the health of your skin too. The proteins that are essential to the skin, such as collagen, keratin and elastin are protected when you use sunscreen. These proteins are useful for keeping the skin healthy and smooth.
There are so many other reasons as to why we need sunscreen and all of them are as important as the next.
What do the different factors mean?
Often buying sunscreen can be confusing as we are often unsure on which factor of sunscreen is necessary and if there is even a difference between the factors.
Sun protection factor or SPF measures how well long sunscreen will protect you for from the sun. In the UK creams labelled with an SPF which is more accurately a “sun burn factor” as it primarily shows the protection against UVB not protection against UVA
More recently manufactures have added a UVA symbol to illustrate where creams are protecting against UVA rays in addition to UVB.
Read the label carefully or ask for advice if you are not sure about the level of protection you need.
The numbers on sunscreen give an idea of how well they protect you and for what length of exposure. Typically, it takes a person 10-15 minutes to burn without sunscreen, if you use factor 15 it means you have 15 times the protection which equites to 2.5 hours’ worth of protection from the sun. Factor 30 and factor 50 work almost to the same levels offering the highest protection.
If you are planning to go on holiday during the summer which involves a lot of time in the sun, sunscreen companies recommend wearing factor 30 or factor 50 sunscreen. These factors will last longer (some will need to be applied again if you have been in the water).
However, if you are spending a couple of hours in the sun in the garden or walking around factor 15 will provide the right amount of protection for the short period of time.
UVA and UVB rays
UV form the sun’s rays contain both UVA, UVB and UVC. It is the deeper penetrating Ultra Violet A (UVA) rays which causes damage in the skin causing premature ageing, pigmentation and a higher risk of skin cancer. Ultra Violet B (UVB) rays which cause sunburn, skin damage and also contribute to the risk of skin cancer. UVC rays do not penetrate the earths atmosphere.
UVA is the dominant tanning ray. A tan occurs when the skin’s DNA is injured, the skin then produces more melanin pigment to prevent any further damage. The result is a darkening of the skin colour. There are more UVA rays than UVB in the UV spectrum from the sun. It’s important to note UVA rays can penetrate through glass.
UVB is still just as important to prevent. It is the main cause of skin reddening and sunburn which cause the discomfort. Like UVA it also plays a part in the development of some skin cancers.
With that being said it is important to spend some time out of the sun and in shade and keep the body well hydrated to avoid sun stroke. Avoid time in the sun when it is at it its strongest around the middle of the day.
It is often hard to predict the sun and know when it’s most important to be protected.
The British Association of Dermatologists have developed an app alongside the MET office which gives live UV ratings from anywhere in the world. This will help plan days and trips out and helps you to keep an eye on the UV rays, so they don’t reach harmful levels.
Read more about the app here
How can Everything Skin Clinic help?
Here at Everything Skin we encourage people to take good care of their skin. We stock some excellent dermatologically tested sun care products we know will offer you the right protection and we are always happy to share our knowledge to keep you safe in the sun.